On Friday my collection of short stories Babushka and Me: Memories from a Soviet Childhood has appeared on Amazon - an intoxicating feeling.
There is no exaggeration in saying that Life Tonic has been instrumental in getting me from a wannabe writer to a published author (a self-published one, admittedly, but it makes me no less proud of my achievement).
I am incredibly grateful for you sticking with me, getting me into the discipline of writing and helping me learn the trade through my weekly challenge of putting together something readable, inspiring, thought-provoking and fun.
Babushka and Me is a collection of short stories, which are just like memories, dipping you into a different reality for a spell between a few tube stations...
Here is what I say in the preface:
"I was born in the Soviet Union, in a place called Sverdlovsk (which has since changed its name back to Ekaterinburg) in the heart of the Ural Mountains. It was, and still is, a large industrial city; a metal processing and manufacturing hub on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which connects Central Russia with Siberia and the Far East. To give you an idea of distance, it takes twenty hours to get to Ekaterinburg from Moscow on a high-speed train. The city is also a cultural and an educational centre, rivalling Moscow and St Petersburg (or Leningrad, as it was known back then).
The Soviet Union of the 1980s was a pretty closed place and, in hindsight, a fascinating one. I grew up in a country in which bananas were like gold dust, but where caviar was a treat that even people with a modest income were compelled to get hold of for special occasions. Otherwise they risked losing face.
The circus, nationalised in the Soviet Union, was endorsed by the Communist Party as ‘the people’s art form’. Sport was practised as a discipline, rather than as a recreational activity. Soviet children learned to read by absorbing stories about ‘Grandpa Lenin’ and joined the ranks of the young ‘pioneers’, who proudly wore their red neckerchiefs to school. When the Soviet Union collapsed and perestroika paved the way for a new Russia, we swapped our neckerchiefs for Orthodox crosses, and our history was literally rewritten.
My father taught chemistry at the Ural State Technical University (then called the Ural Polytechnic Institute), and my mother worked as an engineer at the state industrial planning department. While they were busy working, I was spending a great deal of time with my maternal grandmother, Baba Tonya.
Tonya is short for Antonina. My grandmother’s full name was Antonina Fedorovna Berseneva. For me, she was Baba Tonya or Babushka, which means ‘grandma’ or ‘nan’ in Russian and is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable: Bá-bush-ka.
Her husband had died when I was still a toddler, and she subsequently poured her love into her youngest granddaughter, constantly spoiling me with her scrumptious cooking.
Babushka and Me is a collection of stories; a memoir of my childhood. It is a journey back in time and a tribute to the unconditional love of my grandmother, who would have turned one hundred this year.”
The book is available on Amazon. If you are not based in the UK, simply go to your local version of Amazon and type in "Babushka and Me" in the search box.
If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app from the same page on Amazon and read the stories on your tablet, phone or on your laptop / desktop screen.
I would be honoured if you bought and read my book. Thank you very much and enjoy!
P.S. I got my first five star review!
"Babushka and Me is an entertaining read that affords a short, at times light-hearted glimpse into a Soviet childhood. In a collection of short stories the author tells the reader snippets of the life of a 6- to 10-year-old in Sverdlovsk/Ekaterinburg and more about the scrumptious cuisine of her late grandmother that made me hungry just reading about it!
As a European child of the 1980s my own first memories of political change are mostly about Gorbachev, Perestroika/Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall so I could particularly relate to the last chapter of the book ... in particular, because my own grandmother, just like the author's, also loved watching "Escrava Isaura".
A great short read!"